“Rest easy now warrior…”
Sir Tristan’s eyes grew wide as Drake laid his body to rest, holding the fallen warrior in his arms. The water beneath them rippled but kept its tension. In this dark realm, devoid of God’s light and grace, anything and everything seemed possible. But walking and laying on water was the least alien thing here.
Drake removed Tristan’s crusader-style helmet and put it aside. Tristan floundered and shook, gripping Drake’s arm with all his remaining spirit. Deep fissures covered his face and limbs as his body languished to dust. They shared a glance, and Drake could see in his eyes that he was aware of his imminent demise.
Tristan held firm, but his grip loosened by the second. He shuddered and every word he formed choked in his throat. “Why are you being so merciful to me? I killed your wife…”
Drake smiled miserably. “You took Anna’s life. I took yours. And now, she’s been delivered her justice. I see no reason to continue walking the path of hatred.”
Tristan’s face softened. He felt some measure of peace. He saw nothing but Drake and perpetual darkness; heard only Drake’s words and dripping water reverberate along the chasm. A haze of white fog lingered towards them, ghostly fingers stretching towards them.
“Tristan, you were my greatest student; a true prodigy. The type of pupil that comes once every few generations. Perhaps it was my fault. I pushed you too hard; expecting too much from you. You were just following Ulysses’ orders. Because you’re a good soldier…”
“Good soldiers follow orders,” Tristan replied, conviction in his voice.
Drake looked up where a light tore through the fabric of darkness, shining its beam upon him. The light hastened Tristan’s destruction. He shrieked as he watched his body disintegrate.
Tristan shied away.
Drake tilted his head. “Are you afraid to go into the arms of your God?”
Tristan gasped and paused for a moment. His body relaxed as its ashes floated away, shimmering in the light like illuminated pedals.
“I- I don’t want to go back-”
In Arabic, Drake consoled him. “nakhdae almawt min aintisarih alshareii…”
We cheat death from his rightful victory
Tristan closed his eyes and chuckled. “Ah, I remember now. It wasn’t four horsemen sent to the world to punish the wicked — not four, but five…”
They acknowledged each other not as enemies, but as comrades, bonded by blood, steel, and iron. It would end the way it began. As Tristan passed, he imagined the first time meeting Drake so long ago in Jerusalem as a boy. He was an emaciated, flee-ridden slave hardly worth his weight in salt. When the crusaders took Jerusalem the first time, they butchered everyone behind those walls without discrimination.
The blood soaked his ankles from the butchery and insanity. He would have been next if not for Drake’s intervention. The dashing knight in white robes and dazzling armor. His sharp voice commanded respect, and every soldier stopped to pay their respects as he approached. Tristan never forgot those eyes, like a pistil to a blue rose.
He hated the Saracens. He hated Jerusalem. All he had known was slavery. To him, the first sacking of Jerusalem was a blessing in disguise. It was his liberation. Drake lifted him onto the back of his horse that day and he never looked back…
The found memory made a dead man smile for the last time as he passed on. “I perceive it.”
“I perceive it…”
Tristan’s body collapsed into the ash.
His body jolted, and he returned to the land of the living with a gasp. He looked around where debris and slabs of stone scattered around him. The thunder howled, blessing him with a light rain. Not much remained of the clock tower, but a few broken gears and jagged formations of steel columns that once supported the roof. One bell remained, hanging askew by a hinge.
It rang once, fell and tumbled hundreds of feet below.
Lyn emerged from the stairwell, snapped her head towards him and smiled amiably. She sprinted towards him, tears flying from her eyes. “Drake!”
He opened his arms, ready to receive his maiden’s love. The brightness of her smile and eyes like rain reminded him daily of what he fought for. Nothing else mattered at that moment. A girl worth fighting for.
Rain made a face as she found the strength to stand, propping her body on her sword. She limped towards Drake, body battered, bruised, and beat all to hell. Despite her bitterness towards Lyn and the current circumstances, she managed a simper.
Mordred erupted from a pile of rubble between Drake and Lyn. He roared and swung his scythe, smashing the ground beneath Lyn as the surrounding foundation collapsed. She lost her footing as the floor buckled and she fell from the clock tower.
Drake’s face was mortified. “LYN!”
He turned and dashed towards the edge, jumping off.
“Drake, what are you doing!”
Rain lunged, but the pain defeated her, and she collapsed. Mordred’s rotten body disintegrated, starting with his legs and continuing to his torso. The wretched knight smirked as Rain struggled to raise the crucifix. Its light brightened, and she summoned a massive wave of white energy. She directed it to Mordred and vanquished him with its veil of light.
Drake spiraled into a controlled dive. The entire city scarred by deep, molten lines converging from every direction; its epicenter, the clock tower. From above, the lines formed a magnificent cross, as if God himself carved it with his hands. Blinding gales dimmed his vision and rushed through his ears. He could see Lyn falling; a mere speck below him.
As he came closer, he could hear her screams. Her eyes were closed, and she hugged herself and lowered her head as if praying.
His wings bursted through his shirt, catching the gust and blowing him upward. He tucked them and continued his dive, compressing his body to make it more aerodynamic. At this speed, he would catch her. Landing, however, wouldn’t be as easy.
He swooped in and scooped her in his arms. Her grip was like iron as she snaked her arms around his neck, still screaming. Then she opened her eyes and at the first glimpse of him, the bellowing ceased. He folded her in his wings. “I won’t lose you too Lyn!”
He was warm and his wings felt like a leather blanket; though instead of slowing, they fell faster. Lyn peeked over the spikes lining his wings as the ground came closer. She heard glass shatter and Drake’s body bounced as it smashed into the side of several buildings. His wings caught the pointed end of a broad flagpole, tearing through them.
Drake’s body crashed into one of many abandoned cars in the street, flattening it. Lyn trembled and opened her eyes. Broken glass crunched as she moved and a car horn blared. She inspected her body; unharmed, save for a few minor abrasions.
When she saw Drake, she cried to the stars. He blinked a few times, ensuring her safety before losing consciousness. Blood covered his face and poured from his mouth in streams. Limp wings dangled off the sides of the car as did his arms.
Curious observers gathered around them, clamoring, gasping, some turning away dismayed.
Lyn’s face boiled with anger, and she faced them. “What are you all gawking at!” she blared. “He needs an ambulance. Go find one!”
A man standing just a few feet ahead of the group blanched, staggered his feet and reached for his phone.
Lyn nudged Drake a few times. He didn’t move. She feared the worst. In a desperate attempt of revival, she bit into her wrist and drew blood, dripping it into his mouth. She continued nudging him.
“Drake, baby! Wake up! Wake up! You can’t die! Please don’t leave me again!”
The ground shook as something substantial landed behind her. She turned and before her was the dark angel Abbas, who jabbed past her without a word and cradled Drake in his burly arms. He flapped his wings, blowing a powerful flurry that knocked people off their feet.
And he took Drake away.